Like an unstylish shoe being shuffled off into that dread night whence no obsolescence returns, that haunting, audible icon of mystery and danger, the fog signal, is to be silenced. At least in Irish coastal waters.
As a final insult to a fine tradition most will be struck dumb from a control room in Dún Laoghaire, Co Dublin, at the touch of a computer mouse, itself a symbol of the very technology that has NRB’d these workhorses of maritime safety.
True, a couple or three, at Fastneck, Old Head and Dundalk, will continue for a while, like the last of an endangered species wailing for a mate who can no longer hear. But the executioner’s boat will one day come to silence them.
Flanders and Swann, where are you now that a sad farewell begs to be sung?
Here is the death notice from the Commissioners of Irish Lights:
The Commissioners of Irish Lights announce that their last 9 remaining fog signals will no longer operate after today.
Although we have been closing fog signals on a case by case basis for over 20 years, the 2010 Aids to Navigation (AtoN) Review re-confirmed that fog signals can no longer be considered as AtoN.
The recommendations in the Review were accepted by the Boards of the GLAs and the Marine Users Consultative Committee.
Irish Lights provide an integrated service of Aids to Navigation in British and Irish waters with our sister Services -Trinity House and Northern Lighthouse Board. Our mandate is to provide Aids to Navigation commensurate with the amount and nature of marine traffic and the degree of risk.
The 3 GLAs carry out a joint AtoN Review every 5 years. The 2010/2015 Review commenced in May 2009 and was completed and published in May 2010. Each AtoN is examined with regard to the amount of traffic and the degree of risk and whether the AtoN remains relevant.
This review is available on the CIL website at www.cil.ie/publications
CIL published a Notice to Mariners, No 10 of 2010 on 24th September 2010 advising that the remaining fog signals would be closed down on or about the 11th January 2011.